By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe said she respects the Catholic Church’s refusal to display one of the Balangiga bells in the National Museum in Manila to raise the awareness among Filipino youth about the bells and their significance in Philippine history.
Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public information and mass media, said that while she understood the sentiment of Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, the people of Balangiga, on the other hand, have yearned for the return of the historic relics in their town.
“Well nakita ko ‘yung punto ni Senator Migz kasi hindi naman lahat makakapunta para makita doon ang Balangiga, ‘di ba? Pero ang importante naman siyempre nananabik pa ang mga tao doon, siguro sila muna (I saw the point of Senator Migz in raising his suggestion, because not all can go to Balangiga and see the bells for themselves, right? But what’s important now is that people, of course, are longing for these. So maybe we can allow them to keep the bells in the meantime),” she said in an interview during their family’s commemoration of the 14th death anniversary of late actor Fernando Poe Jr. at the Manila North Cemetery.
The Balangiga bells, returned by the United States last Tuesday, are now back in Borongan, Eastern Samar after 117 years.
Still, Poe hopes that the Church, particularly the Diocese of Borongan, would later “share” and allow the bells to be exhibited in other parts of the country as she likened the move to the tour of images of patron saints and relics.
“Maybe in the near future, kasi Christianity, Catholicism is about sharing also, baka puwede nilang ipahiram on tour (since Christianity, Catholicism is about sharing also, maybe they can share it, on tour),” Poe said.
“‘Di ba iniikot lang ‘yan tapos ibabalik rin kasi ‘yan naman talaga ay isang kasaysayan doon sa lugar na ‘yon,” she added.
Zubiri last week filed Senate Resolution No. 965 asking the govenrment and the Catholic church to place one of the three Balangiga bells in the National Museum “for the appreciation and education of the general public especially the youth.”
He said the display would “give a chance to many Filipinos to see for themselves this religious artifact and be reminded of the role it played in one of the bloodiest chapters of the Philippine-American War.”
Church leaders, however, rejected the move. Zubiri, in response, said he was not insisting his appeal. “If they don’t agree so be it. How arrogant naman are they to say that this is disrespecting the history of our country,” Zubiri said in an interview Thursday.